New glasses: progressives or single?
February 26, 2013 9:47 AM   Subscribe

My near-sightedness is getting worse, and now I'm getting presbyopia, so I have to take off my glasses sometimes for reading or other close work. I can go progressive now or "next time." What should I be taking into consideration when I make my decision?

I've worn glasses to correct near-sightedness since I was 11. My left eye has always been better than my right eye -- when I started wearing glasses, I had plain glass on that side. I've always had great up-close vision.

Well, my left eye is catching up with my right eye, so my overall distance vision is worsening, and apparently the presbyopia is catching up with me as well. Over the last 6-12 months I've started taking off my glasses when I need to read something up close. (Glasses work fine for middle distance, ie computer work, which is what I do all day. I sometimes take them off for reading, particularly on my phone, or for particularly fussy knitting.)

I had an eye appointment yesterday to talk about all that, and as I suspected, the doc brought up the idea of progressives. He thought I could maybe skip that this time, if I'm okay with removing my glasses when I need to. The close-up part of the lenses would be no correction at all.

Current prescription is -2.25/-1.75, with the lower number having jumped from -1.25 the last time I got glasses a couple of years ago. Doc thought that the jump might cause me to have to take off my glasses more often for up close work.

Other vision/activity details: my worse eye turns in slightly; I love cycling; I work on the 4th floor and take the stairs a lot. The change in my distance vision is bugging me enough that I'll probably get glasses within the next month, and my benefits are such that the next time I get glasses will probably be at least two years from now. I have prescription sunglasses with an older prescription, and I'm likely to replace those as well. I have NO plans to get contacts.


Should I make the jump to progressives now, assuming that it's likely that I'll want to sometime in the next five years?

If you've been in a similar situation, what did you do, and how did it work out?

Is there something else I'm missing?
posted by epersonae to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you wore contacts frequently, I'd say wait and use reading glasses. But this sounds like enough of a hassle that it's probably worth just getting bifocals (whether progressive or otherwise) now. What's the argument against doing that, exactly?
posted by acm at 9:50 AM on February 26, 2013

Since you've already been taking off/putting back on/taking off your glasses for the best part of a year, plus you say it's likely to be at least two more years before you get new glasses again.... I'm gonna recommend the progressives now. (If you were likely to get new glasses in one more year, then I might wait.)

Your current glasses situation is already driving you up a wall, and waiting two more years to fix it? You'd be bonkers by then.
posted by easily confused at 9:59 AM on February 26, 2013

I love my bifocals. Be sure to get a large enough frame to accomodate both Rx (but not so big that it distorts images at the edges.)

It took me no time at all to adjust to my progressives.

I too have amblyopia, and astigmatism and I'm far-sighted, so I've been wearing glasses forever.

I can't wear contacts, so I say go for it now. I resisted for years and I can't believe what a dope I was about it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:01 AM on February 26, 2013

I've had progressive bifocals for more than a decade. I almost never think about it - I just am able to see to read and see distance. It's never been an issue for me in terms of stairs or driving or being active. I notice when I need a stronger reading prescription every so often but otherwise it's just glasses that work for me - and no one else can tell that they're bifocals since there's no line. One issue is that you'll want to get big enough lenses to accommodate both prescriptions so super narrow lenses won't work.
posted by leslies at 10:02 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Progressives give you a narrow spot of clear close vision through the bottom center of your lenses. You need to point your head directly at your reading material to use this magic little spot in your lenses. The rest of the lower part of your lenses (down and to either side) will be more distorted than you're used to.

At around -2, you have the lovely luck of having clear vision up to half a meter (19 inches) away when not looking through your lenses. What you should consider in my opinion is frames with a short height that you can easily and comfortably look underneath. Progressives are a huge compromise that you don't need to make, and they're expensive.
posted by fritley at 10:02 AM on February 26, 2013

Peering over or under, taking off glasses to read would be a pain, frankly. Greasy lenses, bending/ breaking the frame too!

I recommend digital progressive lenses. The reading sweet spot is much wider, no fish eye effect if you're going up stairs/walking looking down or reading! Bloody awesome.
posted by alicesshoe at 10:13 AM on February 26, 2013

When I first started getting presbyopia my optho told me "slide your glasses down your nose". She didn't give me a prescription for progressives until that no longer worked and I couldn't read in medium light.
posted by brujita at 11:08 AM on February 26, 2013

For things like sunglasses, don't discount [oh, I kill me] buying them online. My most recent progressive sunglasses and mid-focal computer glasses cost $80 total for both pairs. The progressive sunglasses were $60 of that. Had they not been progressives, they would have been $20.

Fair warning: I have had good luck with progressives via mailorder, but my wife has not. Her Zenni progressives made her dizzy.
posted by chazlarson at 11:24 AM on February 26, 2013

My progressives are awesome. My doctor talked me into them during my visit last fall, becuase the technology has improved so much in the (many) years since I last tried them.

I did have an adjustment period that lasted about 10 days. It was a bit difficult for my eyes to focus for the first few minutes or so the glasses were on my face, and I would get a bit dizzy if I turned my head very quickly, or if I looked side eyed at something, but after 2 weeks or so I was fine . It's been 6 months since I've had them, and there is no adjustment period at all once they are on.
posted by lootie777 at 12:09 PM on February 26, 2013

When my reading vision started to deteriorate, instead of going straight to bifocals/progressives, I got a prescription for monovision: one lens optimized for distance, the other lens a little weaker so my close-up vision with that eye would be better. I was able to order those online.

That lasted me a few years. But as my presbyopia increased, the optometrist said I was nearing the limit of what I could do with monovision (the close-up eye would be too fuzzy at a distance, and vice versa). I'm on my first pair of progressives now. I got them at a brick and morter place to get the full set of measures, and paid a lot for the varilux lenses, but I'm happy with them.
posted by neutralmojo at 12:46 PM on February 26, 2013

Ms Liquado spent more and more time looking over the top of her glasses to play piano, after getting a similar suggestion from her optometrist about timing for getting progressives. She will candidly admit that vanity drove her decision to delay, and that she should have gotten them then (she now has progressives, and is quite satisfied with them).
posted by liquado at 12:47 PM on February 26, 2013

I've had progressives for about a year now. They're great for work where I do a lot of looking at papers then the computer, then a person.). I prefer to take them off for sustained reading though because the area for near distance is very small.

I got my glasses at Costco. The frames and the lenses were significantly cheaper (by hundreds of dollars.)
posted by vespabelle at 1:59 PM on February 26, 2013

I got progressives years ago. I now have regular bifocals.

Honestly, I just take off my glasses to read or do computer work. So that is what I will do until I can't see something and THEN I will worry about it.

(Very nearsighted, and very middleaged, as in 54.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:12 PM on February 26, 2013

If you're a cyclist, I wouldn't muck about with any monovision solutions. You need your depth vision.
posted by maudlin at 3:09 PM on February 26, 2013

I have progressives and love them.
I will, however, be getting a cheap pair of single distance for reading music since the sweet spot in the progressives is at a poor angle for playing trumpet.

Don't discount two cheap pairs for specific tasks over one expensive pair.
posted by plinth at 5:05 PM on February 26, 2013

My doc suggested that starting with progressives fairly early, while the difference between the corrections was not too large, was a good way to get used to them. I've been wearing them now for a couple of years and like them a lot. They're not great for extended close-up work (I want to get near-vision glasses for sewing), and when riding my bicycle I prefer distance-only lenses, but overall I'm pretty happy with them.
posted by Lexica at 6:32 PM on February 26, 2013

I just got my first pair. Two months ago. I find them hard to get used to. In hindsight I would just get stronger reading glasses.
posted by Kilovolt at 8:56 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm in the same place. I'm also an avid motorcyclist, so my eye guy recommended I not get progressives until I absolutely have to. Did some poking around, and progressives are unsafe when riding.

I have no idea if the same thing is true for bicyclists.
posted by QIbHom at 12:30 PM on February 27, 2013

Thanks everybody...I'm going to see what my insurance plan's optometry center's return policy is, but I'm tentatively thinking progressives now. I may also get new sunglasses but just with the distance correction; possibly an inexpensive set ordered online.
posted by epersonae at 11:30 AM on March 5, 2013

Final follow-up: I finally got around to going & getting glasses, and picked up my progressives last Friday. It was strangely uneventful and at the same time miraculous. My vision just worked how I expected it to all along. The first day I had a bit of disorientation/dizziness, especially looking sideways, but otherwise it's been good. I went to my knitting group & could both see my knitting AND my friends! Cycling, stairs, etc have not posed any problems. Thanks everybody for all the input.
posted by epersonae at 1:27 PM on September 5, 2013

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